Upper St. Clair Boy Shot Dead By Twin; Father Arrested
Charges Filed Months After Christian Lanese's Death
updated 1 hour, 1 minute ago
PITTSBURGH - A 9-year-old boy's father has been criminally charged after he allegedly allowed a gun to be handled by the boy and his twin brother, who then shot his sibling to death, according to Allegheny County police.
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Detectives had been investigating the case in Upper Saint Clair for months, ever since Christian Lanese died from what they said was an accidental gunshot wound at the hands of twin brother Stephen in October.
According to the criminal complaint, police said the boys and their father, Michael, went to a gun show on Oct. 18 and tried unsuccessfully to sell several firearms. When the family returned to their Eton Drive home, Michael Lanese instructed the boys to take the guns into the master bedroom, police said.
According to the criminal complaint, Stephen said Christian carried the guns to the master bedroom and then retrieved ammunition from the bedroom closet. Police said Stephen told them that Christian started loading and unloading the .348 caliber rifle. When he finished, Christian sat down in front of the TV and his brother picked up the weapon. Stephen also began loading and unloading the rifle and pulling the trigger. That's when the gun went off, hitting Christian in the back of the head, police said.
Officers said that along with the gun and ammunition, they found three knives near the scene of the shooting. Police said Michael Lanese admitted to moving two other guns from the master bedroom before police arrived.
Police also said that Michael Lanese claimed that the boys broke into a locked cabinet in the basement to find the ammunition, but officers said they found the cabinet blocked open. Investigators said when they asked if the boys had gone into the basement before the shooting Michael Lanese said, "I never paid attention. We all live together."
The criminal complaint also cites six unnamed witnesses who said the boys were often left unsupervised with weapons. On one occasion, a witness reported seeing the boys playing with a hatchet, and two other witnesses said they found the boys playing with a samurai sword. A school nurse also said she made a report to Allegheny County Children, Youth and Family services because the boys were constantly coming to her with injuries.
Michael Lanese, 66, was charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of children and one count of involuntary manslaughter.